By Terry Kelley
University of Georgia
It may be cold and dreary outside now, but spring will return and gardeners will need to be ready. Instead of a new tie or a flannel shirt, why not give a little bit of spring to the gardener on your holiday list?
If your gardener is a novice, why not buy them a starter set? There are many sets of garden tools available at local garden centers. Most come with a small spade or trowel, a cultivating tool and a weeding tool. Some even include gloves and a handy carrying bag.
Flowering eggs and readable leaves
Novel items, like the flower eggling, let gardeners get started indoors while they wait for spring to return. The flower eggling looks like an oversized egg. You crack it, water it and wait for the plant to emerge. Anything from a chrysanthemum to a thyme plant could be inside.
Then there's the amazing message plant. This plant can grow up to two feet tall and last for as long as six months. As the leaves unfurl they reveal the message "I love you" on the surface.
For less than $200, you can equip your favorite gardener with a professional weather monitoring station. The station monitors temperature, humidity, wind speed, rainfall and even uploads information to your gardener's personal computer.
Personally monogrammed planters can be purchased for just over $125. Or, you can buy a garden gnome for as little as $35. Gnomes are supposed to bring good luck to the garden so you could be setting someone up for a bountiful yield.
Books, baths and benches
If your budget is tight, you might opt for a little less expensive gift of either a weather calendar or a copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac - both are available for under $10.
If your gardener also enjoys wildlife, a hanging bird bath, a hummingbird feeder or a finch feeder may fit the bill. A simple bench for your green thumb artist to sit on while admiring their work may be the perfect holiday present.
Of course every vegetable gardener hopes to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Why not give your favorite vegetable gardener a set of new salad utensils, a chopping board or a good set of knives?
Many serious gardeners preserve some of their bounty. New jars, freezer containers or maybe even a pressure cooker could be in order.
Gardening gift baskets
There's a plethora of garden gift baskets on the market. For under $50 you can get one with the basic essentials consisting of some small garden tools, a rain gauge, seeds and gloves. Or, for under $100, you can step up to the more deluxe package that may include such things as moisture meters, pH testers, a thermometer as well as the basic items listed above.
If all else fails, opt for an obvious gardener-gift. You can't go wrong with new seeds for the coming season, a supply of fertilizer or a new garden hose.
No matter which gift you choose, shop early, shop often, happy holidays and happy gardening.
(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)